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2024: A Year of Divergence or Convergence?

🤸‍♀️ Stretch 63

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

I used this quote from writer Zora Neale Hurston in the first Stretch of 2023.

I love that line because because it acknowledges the fact that some years are full of doubt, uncertainty and searching—and that’s okay. The challenge is sitting with that discomfort and resisting the urge to jump to obvious or society-driven conclusions. With enough reflection and patience, you’ll find the answers that are true to you.

This is my last newsletter of the year, and a first in Stretch history: a guest post! Jacob Huber from Revolutionary Character and I co-wrote a piece around using two modes of cognition—divergence and convergence—to reflect and plan for 2024.

You can think of divergence as a focus on asking questions, and convergence as doubling down on the answers. Both phases are necessary, and there’s value in being deliberate about what is most needed as you go into a New Year.


Do you know what you desire from life?

If you were to imagine yourself in December 2024 with the same job, hobbies, and habits, would you be truly satisfied?

The answers to these big, existential questions generally fall into two categories - “Yes, I know what I want (and I need to execute toward this with consistent motivation)” or “No, I don’t know (and I need to figure this out!).”

Loosely speaking, this means you either need to prioritize one of two modes:

  • Thoughtful reflection through Divergent thinking: ideas + imagination + creativity = generating original ideas and new possibilities.

  • Focused execution through Convergent thinking: execution + logic = finding concrete solutions to problems + implementation of the results of divergent thinking.

Our lives naturally oscillate between phases of convergence and divergence, and the priority at any given moment depends on where we are in our life journey.

We must often stay present with the inherent discomfort of prioritizing one mode over the other longer than we would desire.

I know this myself only too well as someone who is far more comfortable “doing” and executing than genuinely getting to my silence to find what I want.

Three years ago, after making the difficult decision to leave a company I truly loved because of a values misalignment with its owners, I made the decision to prioritize reflection for nearly a year, kicking off with a 10-day Vipassana retreat. Staying with this discomfort led me to a solid sense of mission and purpose that I feel is uniquely me: helping others do hard things, build new things and change themselves in the process.

Charlotte went through a similar process. Here’s how she explains it:

“I have a history of rapid shifting between convergence and divergence, perpetuating a pattern of short-lived focus. Increasingly frustrated with myself, I deliberately spent two years in a divergent state through extensive reading, doing creative experiments, and writing online. This period was transformational: I left my decade-long advertising career, changed industries, moved to Lisbon, and am close to being a certified functional breathing coach. Although this exploratory phase felt chaotic and directionless in the moment, it has brought me personal alignment and a clear vision for my life.”

Combining our life experiences and relevant philosophy and science, we’d like to share a simple process for you to reflect on where you are and how to direct your focus in the coming year.

Will 2024 be a year of Divergence or Convergence?

First, ask yourself:

Are you at a time when you need to double down on thoughtful reflection to figure out what you believe in, where you want to go, or what you want to do?

Or, do you have this clear, and you need to get serious about focused execution and progress toward your own mission and values?

There is value in prioritising one of two modes, resisting the urge to converge or diverge too soon.

This is a simple question. Follow your intuition!

Create time and space for reflection

We encourage you to engage in reflection on a daily basis, even if only for a few minutes.

You can use some of these questions as a guide (and ideally journal around them):

  • Where am I saying I want to do something or make a change but am not taking any action?

  • If I am not taking action, is it because I truly don’t want to do it, or because I am scared of the inherent discomfort involved in change?

  • Do I effectively orient my time and energy towards execution or reflection? Why not?

  • Does my schedule represent how I wish to deploy my limited energy, focus, and willpower toward the things I care about? How can I iterate it to rest effectively to improve performance, or where can I cut things out that do not align?

Consistently finding our silence allows us to encounter our unique selves, truths, and desires so that we can differentiate between who we truly are and who the world tells us we are, as we subconsciously adopt the contagious mimetic desires surrounding us.

Align your schedule

Understanding where we are is not solely a theoretical exercise. We must also consistently take action to ensure that the way we orient our time reflects this prioritization and stated preference.

If focused on execution, ensure your schedule reflects this oscillation between convergence to make progress and divergent moments to rest, recover, and iterate.

If focused on reflection, prioritize the divergent—rest, recovery, movement, more moments of getting to your silence. There is a strong relationship between physical movement and divergent thinking when you are not directing your attention to one specific thing. A very simple way to leverage this is to prioritize daily walks.

The same generic protocol applies in both cases:

  • Put the pressure on, leveraging convergent thinking to make your conundrums salient to your subconscious: Spend 10 - 20 minutes making a written reflection on your biggest questions.

  • Reset your nervous system to facilitate a smooth transition to divergent thinking: light stretching, a workout, sauna, etc.

  • Fully embrace divergent thinking to get your answers: 5 minutes of the physiological sigh, a walk or hike, dinner, laughs and conversation with loved ones.

Be flexible

The more that we can engage in one or the other in a binary fashion (not switching rapidly between the two but rather spending at least one hour in one or the other), the more effective we become.

That said, life is a dance between reflection and execution.

Those prioritizing execution must still reflect to ensure their tactics and strategies are effective, and those prioritizing reflection must still execute to bring their fantasies of purpose and meaning down to earth.

Finding your silence

Jacob and Charlotte are planning to get their silence at the end of the year—practicing what we preach!

Jacob is disappearing to a rustic cabin in the woods for a solo vipassana retreat to prioritize reflection and iterate tactics, strategy, and agenda accordingly.

Charlotte is planning for a year of convergence, taking the time to reflect on what that looks like and making deliberate choices about what to say yes, and more importantly, what to say no to.

How about you? How will you find your silence over the holidays?

If you’d like to confront these deep questions and orient your life accordingly with the support of a sound, scientific methodology and a group of like-minded individuals—check out the Revolutionary Character course or schedule a no-obligation chat with Jacob, the founder. In this course, you will:

  • Figure out what you want to orient your life toward

  • Structure your time and energy toward this purpose to experience peak performance and maintain consistent clarity, energy, and wellness

  • Unlock your full potential and achieve optimal wellness by aligning your lifestyle and work habits with your unique psychological and physiological needs.

Aaaand that’s a wrap. 🌯 Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for being here and for all the support. See you in January.


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